Wednesday, December 19, 2007


Thomas B. Pollock, the author of this text, wrote many metrical litanies. He wrote this one in 1871 for a payer day organized by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel. Originally it had eighteen stanzas.

A litany is a form of prayer used in church services consisting of a number of petitions and, usually, one response or refrain. The word comes from the Latin litania meaning "prayer" or "supplication". As we have it in the Augment, we sing four petitions for the church, its members, its teaching and its ministries. The common refrain is, "Lord, our Saviour, hear us." (Psalm 136 has the structure of a litany.)

Pollock first studied medicine but then changed to theology. After he was ordained as a minister in the Church of England in 1861, he served several congregations but spent most of his ministry in a mission church in Birmingham, England. Although he was given many opportunities to serve in more prestigious positions, he chose to work among the poor of Birmingham.

The tune was composed by John H. Gower, born in Rugby, England. A child protégé, he became assistant organist at Windsor Castle at the age of twelve. He died, in 1922, in Denver, Colorado.

Sources: Psalter Hymnal Handbook; Internet

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